Chateau de la Barre
, Conflans-sur-Anille, Pays de la Loire.
Close to the Loire Valley, the history of Château de la Barre stretches back a long way, and has been the residence of the de Vanssay family for over six centuries. It is still in family hands and is the home of the Count and Countess, Frenchman Guy and his Anglo-American wife Marnie. Set in a private park hidden by trees, surrounded by meadows with grazing sheep and 16th century fortification walls, this is now a thoughtfully-maintained boutique hotel, voted the best château ‘chambres d’hôtes’ in France by the Sunday Times and among the "Best 100 Hotels" by Times Travel Magazine. The château was originally a court of justice and a toll collection centre, hence the name ‘La Barre’. The wing which forms the basis of the hotel today was constructed in the 17th Century, with its interior refurbished a century later.
The five bedrooms are all a sumptuous delight to stay in, but as befits a maison d’hôtes, they are all of an individual design, and have been renovated in the last five years. Whether it be the ‘Chambre Esprit de Jouy’ with its ‘toile de Jouy’ fabric, created during the Enlightenment, and four-poster king-size bed, the ‘Chambre Jaune’ with its golden-yellow hue, or perhaps the ‘Chambre Bleue’ with its carefully-selected antique oil paintings, each of these shows guests a different aspect of the diversity of this building so full of history.
The reception rooms are open to guests, such as the 'grand salon', much as it was in 1778, with its original ornate decoration and furniture. Or how about the traditional 14th century fireplace room, with a game of billiards awaiting guests, along with BBC and NBC satellite channels, and a games computer? One of two dining rooms (one for breakfast, the other for dinner) features Impressionist paintings depicting scenes of Loire Valley life and Parisian backdrops.
Twice a week, guests can enjoy a Grand Siecle dinner hosted by the Comte and Comtesse with all the family silver and china, served in the prestigious 17th century Grand Dining Room. This dinner consists of four courses with two different wines and is priced at 185 euros per head, all inclusive. Before the dinner, champagne is served in the Salon Rose with its Louis XV armchairs and chesterfield sofa, or on the terrace, and afterwards guests can retire to the Grand Salon for coffee, tea and brandy.
Breakfast, supper and picnics are also available at the château. Château de la Barre is also happy to recommend little gourmet restaurants in picturesque towns of the region, for lunch and dinner on other days.
Attention has not been spared on the gardens either- there are four which surround a fountain (Italian, Japanese, American and Inca), plus a beautiful rose garden with over 200 different plants. The setting is romantic, and a tranquil accompaniment to one’s visit to the Loire Valley, whilst being just 45km from the magnificently renovated Plantagenet city of Le Mans, now stage set to numerous films.